The last time we looked at a cruise ship lifeboat, it was the massive fiberglass CRV55 used by Royal Caribbean. Passengers climb directly aboard from the deck, and the craft is then lowered to the water by winches.
Viking Cruises, however, has a different approach to lifeboat deployment:Enter a caption (optional)
How it works is quite interesting. Viking's lifeboats are inflatable and compressed inside a pair of gigantic canisters attached to a heavy sleigh that's pointing nose-down and resting on a ledge:
When the release handle is pulled, a small nitrogen blast kicks the nose of the sleigh away from the boat, clearing the ledge. Then gravity takes over, and the sleigh (they call it a "sledge," tomayto, tomahto) plummets towards the water, pulling the escape chutes open.
Once the sleigh hits the water, the canisters float but the heavy sleigh sinks, pulling the ripcord that inflates the lifeboats inside the canisters. The sleigh detaches and sinks away.
I was initially puzzled by the escape chutes, which go straight down: How the heck do they slow one's descent?
I found the answer in the instruction manual for the Viking Evacuation Dual Chute, or VEDC:
So the dual chutes are basically internal sleeves that slow you down by friction. It appears the key is that you cannot have your arms above your head, but must keep them by your sides to give your torso area enough bulk to maintain friction. As you can see at the right of the image, injured or sick people must be lowered with a rope. And presumably, crew members top and bottom direct the pace, so that you don't have people landing on each other.
I hope none of us ever has to use one of these, but at least now you'll know what to expect when you jump down that chute.
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At least if the power shuts down in the emergency, the escape system will still work, however flawed. The boats lowered by winch are really only designed for ferrying passengers to tourist sites, not for emergency escape when the sea is rough and the vessel heeled over. Check out the lifeboats on non passenger vessels, they are all launched by gravity not relying on any ships power.
This seems incorrect. I think the writer has confused Viking Cruises with another company called Viking
Being in a wheelchair and severely disabled, this is completely inaccessible. It’s a pity, because cruise ships are usually very good in terms of accessibility for me. I guess I’ll never be going on Viking.
I once worked with a company that built similar chutes, and went down a shorter one during some training. It's not fun when you're afraid of heights, but they do slow you down enough to greatly reduce the chance of injury. I read the graphic the same as Mark H - don't use your feet to slow down. If I recall (it was a decade ago), the instruction from the person running the top side of the chute was "feet together, hands above your head, land flat footed, GO!". The whole idea seemed to be to let the chute bounce you around to slow down, and not have you snag your leg on the chute and dislocate something.
Lolz, friction it is, although it seems not a lot ... until you get stuck, and then not a lot again.
So no warranty you'll land soft.
That said, it does beat jumping from deck.
Considering everyone has food poisoning after the Keith Sweat show it smells a lot like you're being digested, too.
It seems very risky to assume torso areas are going to be uniform enough to slow people properly, especially on a ship that has a quite international passenger makeup. But maybe friction vs. cross section/weight still results in the same descent speed.
Awesome find Rain. :D Very interesting mechanism, I would like to try it once... :) Maybe not during a real evacuation though...